Laughable folly of Berea elitism.

Knowledge is good. –Emil Faber

So you say it’s your dream to work for your hometown Cleveland Browns?  How can you too get into that Haslam braintrust, you ask.  What path of hard work and real life accomplishment might earn you consideration to join the august team of data scientists whose performance to date is… renowned.

Welp, the good news is that you don’t have to have any specialized football background.  And hard work and record of accomplishment is more of a ‘nice to have’ than ‘must have.’

The bad news is that your Kent State cum laude diploma won’t do the trick.

No, you’ll need the sort of connections that can get you placed in a college where only one in twenty are accepted.  You or someone who cares a lot for you will need to have about $80,000/year x4 = ~$320,000 in spare cash to fund your pursuit.

Because the surest path to Berea goes through Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Raise your hand if you’ve heard Berea press-conferences stressing the need to develop talent in-house and that teams are not built through free-agency; that free agent signings are tools to get good teams across the finish line and into playoff contention.  I mean, ok, makes sense, in fact I agree with the premise.

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Not good enough for 3-13 Browns, is good enough for 10-6 Seahawks.

So how is it that four Browns-drafted FAs — Mack (seven years, first round), Schwartz (4, 2nd), Gipson (3, undrafted), Benjamin (4, 4th) —  comprising 18 years of continuity are allowed to leave in the last week.  And this is on the heels of last year when we let — Sheard (four years, second round), Skrine 4, 5th), Cameron (4, 4th), Winn (3, 6th), and Rubin (7, 6th) — 22 years of Browns continuity and five draft picks move to enhance other teams in the league.

THAT’S NINE HOMEGROWN NFL STARTERS ALLOW TO LEAVE IN TWO YEARS.  Eight draft picked developed and discarded.  Lost is 40 years of aggregate “Play Like A Brown” lockerroom éminence grise.

Seems like a Harvard Business School case study in how not to build an organization.  I mean, I dropped out of my MBA program halfway through but even I can remember taking an Organizational Behavior course and, not that I need to text book to validate that an organization with that much turnover will not have stability, but I do have one.  It’s the same text book I didn’t need to figure out that having a CEO reviewing film with the GM would create extra pressure for the already-pressurized head coach and would manifest in strained feelings, poor communication, and general dysfunction.

Wait a sec .. “Harvard Business School case study.”  Where have I been hearing about Harvard in a Cleveland context lately?  The Sashi Brown and John DePoesta hirings all proudly boasted of their Harvard credentials.  A little over the top, I thought, because the tough part about Harvard and Ivies is getting in and having someone to pay for it.  If anything, I viewed the Ivy education with a bit of stink eye since it’s highest probable that the holder of the degree, having been told how exceptional he is for some many years, believes himself uniquely gifted.

We’re not wrong, the market is wrong.

In short, it would take that special brand of Harvard elitism to believe that they’re not wrong when they refuse to pay and allow 40 years of locker room continuity to leave — the market which set the price is wrong; the coaches who speak of intangibles of locker room leadership and importance of “team” for a team sport are wrong.

They can’t be wrong because in case you forgot — Harvard.


It got me thinking — how deep does the Ivy fetishism go?  Said another way — how deep is Jimmah’s insecurity in his own decision-making capability where he defaults to Harvard in the [vain] expectation that these elites will be smarter than other organizations?

It goes very deep.

I took a quick walk through the Browns’ front office roster and cross-referenced the names I could find in LinkedIn.  Imma just gonna leave these here.

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 7.18.36 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-12 at 7.21.07 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-12 at 7.26.15 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-12 at 7.27.56 PM Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 7.31.20 PM Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 7.27.15 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-12 at 7.33.37 PM

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That’s five Harvards, a Chicago, a Princeton, a Columbia, and sure let’s count Scheiner’s two Georgetowns.  All subscribe to the

Sloan Conference credo:
Sports analytics: The Phrenology of 2016.

Sports analytics: The Phrenology of 2016.

“Dedicated to making football team personnel assembly into a complex graduate-degree-level science to justify the clique and to head off critical review of our performance by the millions of football watchers who could do better than us with a dartboard.”

So wedded to his ‘Moneyball’ mystique is new hire DePodesta, that he actually is speaking at the Sloan Conference the three days into his first NFL free agency.  We’ll credit him for commitment to his craft, regrettably his chosen craft is apparently ‘augmentation of my brand.’  Bummer Bill Simmons isn’t around to ballwash for you this year, eh Paul?


Ok fine, Jimmah wants Ivies.  What’s my problem?  What’s my problem other than I, with my [apparently] disqualifying state school degree (MiamiO), can not only apply enough analytics to determine that having short d-backs is a problem but am also able to extract myself from trendy big-data talking points enough to know successful teams develop continuity by re-signing performing players.  My problem is that if a simple plebe like myself can figure out shit like this and that the Ivies can’t, maybe the problem is with the whole smartest-guys-in-the-room culture and it’s accompanying need to justify their legend.

Where do I start:

  1. Being in the thrall of name-brand diplomas severely restricts your talent pool.
  2. Further, I dispute the premise that any college diploma is needed to assemble a good football tam.
  3. There’s a special grotesquery with this front office in that 100% of them have attended a TED seminar on the subject of ‘thinking outside the box’… while they’re all from the same box.
  4. My guess is none of them are Browns fans.
  5. My guess is all them will leave Northeast Ohio as soon as the resume is sufficiently padded.
  6. After three years of the Scheiner brand diploma elitism, no corollary can be found to support the idea that it leads to better performance on the football field.  In fact, the data suggest the opposite.
  7. Repeat — since we’re all into analytics now — the data indicate that more Ivy graduate degrees in a front office leads to a poorer football product.
  8. Not for nothing but the sport analytics program is at the other school a mile east of Harvard on the Charles… so you’re hiring from the wrong school.  I mean if you want to do slavish devotion to an unproven psuedo-science… you best know the difference between Harvard and Kendall Square.
  9. Does elitism sell to Lorain or Mahoning or Cuyahoga counties?

I think nine is what pisses me off most.  The message here to Cleveland people, to state school grads, and especially to you imbeciles working in trade with only your pathetic Medina Cloverleaf mortarboard tassel hanging from your seven year old F-150’s rear view mirror — you’re too stupid to understand what we’re doing here so…

Be quiet and respect your betters.


Post-script and on the subject respecting of your betters, it’s been three years since Jim Nantz said

“It’s been absolutely masterful the way Jimmy Haslam has constructed this.” 

and

“…with all great respect, I think [Browns fans are the] best football fans in the country, [but] they don’t really know what they’re talking about with this hire.”

 

  • actovegin1armstrong

    I must admit, I am the secretive, super, agent orange, silent but deadly, general manager of the Cleveland Browns. Connor Cook at 32, to back up starting quarterback Connor Shaw, with new quarterback and receiver RGINJURY, running the read option, but only during the third quarter.

  • actovegin1armstrong

    When are we going to discuss the Browns’ Superbowl? Trade out of the 2nd pick, start the draft with 15 picks and take Connor Cook in the 2nd round.

  • trashycamaro

    We disagree about a lot on the Browns (in a good way!) but you have hit the ball out of the park with this post. While there are certainly warts on each of the free agents that left over the past two years the mass exodus is absurd. And it’s not like these guys left for vet minimum deals as street free agents to bad teams – Sheard enabled the pats to trade Chandler Jones; Schwartz went to a playoff team with Super Bowl aspirations; Benji gets to play catch with a real live NFL QB; Mack is going to a perennial playoff team; Skrine headed out to join one of the best secondaries in the NFL; etc.

    How “building through the draft” meshes with “let all your drafted talent walk out the door” is a mystery to me. But that’s probably because I have a Crimson Tide law degree in stead of a Crimson one.

  • Warburton MacKinnon

    I am trying very hard to find a reason to care about the Browns anymore……so far I have come up with none,unless I look at it as a tragic comedy.

  • Steamer

    With the exception of maybe a hot air balloon, anything you build, you build from the foundation up. Ask a contractor if he pours concrete or nails on a roof first! Jimmy Haslem understands that you build the foundation 1st, but he keeps forgetting the next step so he tears up the foundation and starts over again, These 9 players were a solid foundation to build on and now wiser teams than than the Browns will use them to build a strong, beautiful team. Common sense is NOT COMMON in Berea.

    • im afraid jimmah doesnt doesnt know the part about building a foundation instinctively which is why he surrounds himself with ivy consultants to come up with a plan. unfortunately, to stay with your construction analogy, he wants to hire IM Pei when what he needs is an excavator and a contractor who knows the basics of pouring concrete.

  • Dave Kolonich

    I was thinking of the homegrown “exodus” over the weekend. Want to know how many current home-drafted starters the Browns have?

    Five – Thomas, Haden and Bitonio. John Hughes and Christian Kirksey probably don’t count.

    So of course this means that the team who can’t draft is going to…..build through the draft AGAIN. Feels like I’ve heard this before.

    In theory this makes sense, as the perennial winners have built through the draft. It also makes sense not to overpay for:

    -Mack – who wasn’t that good last year, is 30 and already wrecked his leg.
    -Schwartz – who is average, but since college football doesn’t produce quality OL anymore, he becomes more valuable
    -Benjamin – kind of torn on this one. Except for 2013 Josh Gordon the Browns haven’t had a playmaker in 30 years.
    -Gipson – not really a difference maker – but covers for having a slug like Whitner.

    But the whole point is: the Browns can’t draft and the new FO is the least experienced bunch of the expansion era……so even a 3-13 team has to overpay to at least keep the few decent starters it has (had). Same goes with Sheard, Rubin, etc.

    Otherwise, we’re looking at disaster. Or perhaps – MIKE here’s a topic for you – is the Harvard crew going to pull a Sam Hinkie? Are we looking at a TANK JOB? Are the Browns the new Sixers?

    Can’t wait for that panel discussion.

    • Steamer

      Great observation and questions! The Browns may answer this without the panel discussion on drat day. If they trade back for extra picks in the 1st and/or 2nd round and then pick 4th round talent with the extra picks, we will have our answer!

      • Dave Kolonich

        Bosa could be that 4th round talent. Guy has bust written all over him. Heard an interview where he talks of “building his brand in the NFL.” No. Thanks.

        • Dan

          Got to agree with you on Bosa. I am an Ohio State fan, but never saw him actually dominate a game, and I think he regressed from the previous year. When I think of dominant linemen, I think of the Big Twelve Championship Game between Nebraska and Texas when Suh completely dominated the game. That should be what we are looking for in a #2 pick.

    • im sure things will be better since we replaced one duke guy with two harvard men. #credential’d

      cant be the sixers; sixers decent uniforms.

      • Dave Kolonich

        Wonder if Haslam would ever put the IT guy in charge of sales at Pilot J?

  • jpftribe

    to head off critical review of our performance by the millions of football watchers who could do better than us with a dartboard.”

    OMG. There is not a doubt in my mind that you could’ve taken any of the Cheddar players and made them Browns GM four years ago with the resulting pissed off Grossi column about how the Browns are losing in the playoffs the last two years.

  • “… whose performance to date is… renowned.”

    I LOL’d.

    Hiring a bunch of Harvard grads to fix the Browns is so predictably anti-diversity, anti-equality, and anti-reality that I’m surprised Haslam didn’t do it from the beginning.

    • meanwhile kevin colbert, born in pittsburgh, grad of their equivalent of baldwin wallace (robert morris) quietly makes free agency signing of the season. ladarius green for 4.8M gtd. smh.

      • It’s really something to chew on that there’s zero chance any of these guys stays in Ohio once their job with the Browns is done.

        • Dan

          One of them isn’t even in Ohio now!

  • Funny how you mention that a Kent State diploma won’t even get you in the door in Berea as I’ve applied to 3 jobs with the Browns in the past year and my Kent State diploma can’t get me anywhere near the door. Well done!

    • of course not.. you’re the local rube and your role is to purchase this year’s nike game jersey at $120 or $140 or whatever we decide after consultation with the rest of the jersey cartel. stay in your lane.

      ya know, i can remember concerns being raised that the new owner wasn’t from NEO and those concerns were dismissed with snark and disdain. ‘he gets us’ continues as a semi-meme intended to stifle the fair and accurate appraisal that haslam pretty much is a elitist carpetbagger. his opinion of the state university class is reflected in his hiring practices. one can only imagine how the browns view high school only people.

      the irony of course is that he himself is a state u hillbilly. the psychology of compensating for his own insecurities through surrounding himself with ivies does not require a masters to discern either. ‘maybe if i hire enough crimson they’ll let me go to the after party at Head of the Charles next year.’

      a stronger, more secure man would not be so enthralled with the faux-honorifics of how much did you pay for your diploma. his issues are his own, we all have them, nothing to see there.

      but he crosses the line with the snobbery implied through his obdurate refusal to use ohio people in his front office.

      • We’ve pretty much had our share of the “he gets us” crowd in regards to a player, coach or owner. It reeks so bad of desperation.

        As to everything else, spot on except for the jersey purchase: the last Browns jersey we bought was a Bob Golic jersey in 1988 and it will be the last one we purchase.

  • GRRustlers

    In borderline tears looking at my phone…wife finally asks what’s so funny.

    I show her my phone.

    That SOB should know that Cloverleaf was more of a Silverado school. She than reminds me that at least her school has a kid in the NFL.

    The only hope I have for this collection of people who pay for sex with a personal check while reminding the girl they went to Harvard is that they leave Hue Jackson alone. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got.

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